Another atmospheric river takes aim at California as the state grapples with snow shutdowns and risk for flooding grows

Another atmospheric river takes aim at California as the state grapples with snow shutdowns and risk for flooding grows

California was plagued by a devastating drought for months. Now, after a series of atmospheric rivers and winter storms, the state is being hit by significant amounts of snow and rain.

And it will become more intense.

Back-to-back winter storms have left many areas across the state almost completely buried in snow, forcing many residents to trek to get basic necessities, stranding avid hikers and even closing Yosemite National Park. The Weather Channel reports that a storm system will continue to dump more snow through Wednesday before an atmospheric river joins the region on Thursday.

“[The winter storm] will also receive additional fuel by injecting a long plume of deep moisture known as an atmospheric river,” the Weather Channel said. “In this case, the band of moisture will stretch over 2,000 miles long, from near Hawaii, to which meteorologists often call. “Pineapple Express”.

The National Weather Service has warned that the combination of the river system and winter storms will lead to heavy rain and “high levels of snow.”

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“This will be a warm storm system with rain falling over existing snow accumulation up to 8,500 feet, with the highest snow levels expected in Central California,” the agency said. “The combination of heavy rain and melting snow could lead to flooding.”

Areas at elevations below 5,000 feet are expected to see the most snowmelt, while waterways in the “western foothills of the Sierra Nevada will be most vulnerable to flooding.” High altitudes will also face problems, as they are expected to see “very heavy snow” that could make travel difficult.

The WPC has initiated key messages for a winter storm set to bring heavy rain and mountain snow to California later in the week. Expected impacts include (but are not limited to) treacherous travel on higher ground and flooding from a combination of heavy rain and melting snow. #CAwx

— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) March 7, 2023

Much of California is at risk of heavy rain in the coming days. According to the Weather Prediction Center, there is a moderate risk of excessive rainfall in Central and Northern California starting Thursday due to the atmospheric river, which the agency said will be “strong” and intensify through Friday.

“Snowfall levels will be much higher than recent storms given the source of tropical moisture in play, rising quickly to around 8,000 feet,” the service said, adding that high snowfall amounts are also likely. lead to even more rain. “…This means that all of the Coast Ranges and much of the Sierra foothills will have heavy rain on top of the snow, increasing the threat of flash runoff due to snowmelt.”

By Friday night, the storm is expected to dump between 6 and 8 inches of rain on the Central California coast and Sierra Nevada, the service said, and many areas — from Bakersfield to north of Redding — are under a flood watch.

The Weather Channel warns that there are “some concerns” about the upcoming weather.

“Most of the snowpack at lower elevations may melt as warmer air and rain move in. This released water may flood smaller rivers, streams and creeks,” TWC said, adding that rain may not melt the deeper snow at higher elevations, but it may further stress infrastructure that is already snow-soaked, and it may also lead to flooding because there may not be as much land surface for incoming precipitation to fall. they dry up.

In many cities they are preparing for the rainstorm.

Officials in Monterey County, south of San Francisco, have made sandbags available for residents living near waterways at risk of flooding. County emergency officials have also urged people in the Big Sur area to have at least two weeks of “essential supplies” in preparation for this week’s atmospheric river and winter storm.

Monterey County emergency staff are urging #BigSur area residents and businesses to prepare and have at least two weeks of essential supplies in anticipation of a stormy river weather event later this week. Sign up for emergency notifications.

— MontereyCoInfo (@MontereyCoInfo) March 7, 2023

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Tuesday that there are seven shelters in six counties available for those expected to be affected by the flooding.

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Lee Cohen

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